Is government open source code we can patch?
That's the question raised by Britt Blaser in “Oh, if only government went in for an open source make-over…”. It's also one suggested indirectly by Phil Hughes in Our Internet.
Democracy is by nature "our government". The open source twist on that we put it together and can hack improvements to it. Think of elected officials as committers and maintainers and you start go get the idea.
The analogy isn't perfect, because by nature open source code is purely practical: it has to work. While government often does not. All government is buggy. In the worst cases it crashes outright and is replaced or supplemented by corrupt alternatives.
But government and governance are not the same things. A lot of governance takes place outside of government, in society. What Britt's suggesting is an open source model of governance, facilitated by code, that directly engages citizens in governance. What Phil's suggesting is building or rebuilding the Internet on the model Bob Frankston suggests in my Interview with him in the current issue of Linux Journal. That model is one not dependent on mainframe-like proprietary networks by phone and cable carriers that add the Internet as "a service", but instead depends on individuals and small groups connecting to each other, and then out to the world by any means available, which might or might not include those carriers.
I have long believed that there is far more business, especially for carriers, to be found in bets on abundance than in bets on scarcity. In other words, there are non-monopolistic advantages to incumbency that far exceed the monopolistic ones.
I bring this up for two reasons.
First, individual and community-built networks will eventually encounter big carriers that own backbones as well as "last mile" CFR (copper, fiber and radios). When that happens, we need to be able to show business as well as social advantages of wide-openness and ubiquitous connectivity.
Second, those carriers are part of what Bob calls the Regulatorium -- a combination of regulated enterprise and governance in which the latter tends to control the former. We can work around it up to a point. Or we can hack it.
We did it with code. Now let's do it with connections.
Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal
|HPC Cluster Grant Accepting Applications!||Jan 28, 2015|
|Sharing Admin Privileges for Many Hosts Securely||Jan 28, 2015|
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform||Jan 23, 2015|
|Designing with Linux||Jan 22, 2015|
|Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch||Jan 21, 2015|
|Ideal Backups with zbackup||Jan 19, 2015|
- Designing with Linux
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform
- Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch
- Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next
- Ideal Backups with zbackup
- Slow System? iotop Is Your Friend
- Hats Off to Mozilla
- diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development
- 2014 Book Roundup
- Non-Linux FOSS: Animation Made Easy
Editorial Advisory Panel
Thank you to our 2014 Editorial Advisors!
- Jeff Parent
- Brad Baillio
- Nick Baronian
- Steve Case
- Chadalavada Kalyana
- Caleb Cullen
- Keir Davis
- Michael Eager
- Nick Faltys
- Dennis Frey
- Philip Jacob
- Jay Kruizenga
- Steve Marquez
- Dave McAllister
- Craig Oda
- Mike Roberts
- Chris Stark
- Patrick Swartz
- David Lynch
- Alicia Gibb
- Thomas Quinlan
- Carson McDonald
- Kristen Shoemaker
- Charnell Luchich
- James Walker
- Victor Gregorio
- Hari Boukis
- Brian Conner
- David Lane